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American Mini, Not Muscle

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On: Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 2:19PM | By: Benjamin Roussey

American Mini, Not Muscle

The New York International Auto Show seemed to be less of an auto show than it was an extravaganza for environmentally friendly automobiles. To be more accurate, it seemed to be a display for mini-mobiles. The self-propelled cars in the Flintstone’s cartoon had more power than some of these cars. This timing could not have come at a worse time for these auto companies. This winter tossed a monkey wrench into the spokes of the Al Gore global warming crusade and an increasing number of people are questioning the global warming rational.

American Consumers want efficient and inexpensive cars to drive everyday. Not many consumers want to pay another 20% for a price of a car to fund some lavish health care package by a union member. These tiny cars will help car companies satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules which were just published. They force car manufactures to augment their average fleet mileage to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. It is something to consider since the automobile industry has not seen this number increase for well over 30 years. There is nothing wrong with being efficient since every gallon of gas a customer buys comes with a noticeable, but hidden, gas tax.

This was an auto show that many Americans would consider a ho-hum affair. Ferrari and Lamborghini didn't even bother to make an appearance. Porsche and Lincoln were in attendance, rolling out their new hybrids. The only high-performance autos that were present were the new Scion tC and the Bentley Supersports convertible. There was not a lot of flash here; it was more about being practical. No one is picking any bones with this focus, in an economy that is seeing 15% unemployment rate and growing deficits because of irresponsible politicians; a car that gets the job done without a lot of unnecessary contraptions is just logical.

One of the most high-tech features included in a vehicle package was delivered by the Volvo S60. This is a beautiful car featuring a built-in camera and radar capability that can recognize walking citizens and stop the car before the driver can react.

Besides this Volvo and a few others, most cars were small. You could have mistaken New York for Seoul, there were so many small cars. Even Seoul has Hummers driving around though. The Chevy Cruze Eco gathers a hefty 40-mpg, for instance. Some of the cars that were fighting for the mini prize were the Nissan Juke crossover, Mazda2 hatchback, MINI Countryman, and the Scion iQ. The iQ is a microcar manufactured by Toyota and is barely a foot longer than the Smart fortwo. The Mazda and Scion have 100 horsepower. Will they even get you up a San Francisco hill? Will they cross the Rocky Mountains? They certainly will not in snowy weather. Can they be trusted in any type of adverse weather? Would you want your child strapped in the back seat in something so feeble? Small cars like this are sensible for a college student who sticks close to the campus but not someone with a family.

Someone needs to remind the EPA that Americans are not getting any smaller. The good news is, at least, Americans still have a choice on what car they want to buy, even though other choices seem to be eroding.

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